Two days ago, I wrote a post on ” Gain back excellence for our universities” in response to a piece of news in Malaysiakini on the slide of rankings of our local universities.
One of my fellow bloggers, diffodils, who has an excellent blog at My Space, and whom I suspect is a lecturer, wrote a very thought provoking comment on this post. She said:
There are a good many students with CGPA above 3.5 in STPM studying in our public universities. They are there because of the high cost of studying overseas. Of course there are also those who got in through an easier route.
I feel sorry for those good students that because of the low rank of our public unis, they lose their competitive edge. I am quite sure these students if given funding to study overseas will definitely measure up.
She has hit the Jackpot there by pointing out a very grave consequence of poor academic tertiary standard.
One of the grave consequences of our universities having a poor academic standard would be a phenomenon which I call “Brain Waste”.
In my reply to her, I wrote about the Brain Waste:
There are so many good students studying in Form 6 STPM, and these students , if given a chance to be trained in a good university, can become world class experts in their respective fields.
It is really a waste of talents that many of these can’t get into the streams of their choice, and even if they do, they are unable to compete with those overseas because of the poor standards of teaching in local universities. The sad thing is they can’t afford to go overseas, mainly because they are not rich and unable to get scholarships.
We have Brain Drain of those studying overseas and do not want to come back.
This is Brain Waste when we have world class materials but because of the poor decaying standards in our universities, these world class materials cannot realise their potentials.
We need meritocracy in our university. We need meritocracy in our faculty members. We cannot afford to have 2nd class lecturers and professors if we want our universities to excel. Lecturers’ employment and promotion must be strictly on their merits and nothing else.
It i s just like the judiciary. We cannot expect to have an independent judiciary if appointments can be arranged behind the scene.
Brain waste is as serious as brain brain, because in both cases we lose talents.
Human Resource is the most important asset a nation has; more important than physical assets like minerals or petroleum, which are depletable. A country can have the most sophisticated equipment, but as I have written before, a gadget is only as good as the person handling it.
Human resource, if well utilised, can often make a difference in the development and advancement of a nation and a people. The First World is First World mainly because of the high academic standards there which can make a raw stone into a gem, figuratively speaking.
In general, most countries in the world has become better compared to 50 years ago, except for the sub-Sahara African nations. There are many African countries which have very rich resources, with minerals, gold, diamonds and so on. These countries, however, have become worse off after many decades of independence, partly because the Human resource factor is not well developed. A raw stone there remains a raw stone, with no hope of becoming a gem, figuratively speaking again.
What is the point of having hundreds of high IQ and intelligent students when the training they receive cannot make them world class talents? It will be like Sub-Sahara Africa, Burma, Cambodia or to a lesser extent Indonesia, where the graduates there cannot even compete with an undergraduate students from one of the better universities in the world.
I hope I won’t see the day that our universities become an also-run like some of the so-called universities in third world countries. SOme of the doctors trained there cannot even read medical journals , so what advancement can you talk about when medical knowledge increases by leaps and bounds every other month? Similarly, would you trust a third world country engineer to do a big project for you, when that fellow may not even be able to keep up with the advances in the engineering world because of the poor command of language?
Brain Waste will lead us to this stage eventually, if we don’t buck up.
At the moment, despite the drops of rankings of our universities, the is still hope. I would say they are still among the middle rungs, even though they are outside the top 200.
But Once the rot has become gangrenous, it would be next to impossible to turn back.
We need to change our education system. We need to do it now!!